Adam & Georgian Style

Georgian entryway

In America’s early colonial period times were tough and architecture was not foremost on settler’s minds. Survival was the name of the game and the architecture of the time reflected that with simple utilitarian homes. By 1700 America’s population had grown into the millions and its citizens had begun to attain some wealth for themselves. This prosperity led to a desire for more and nicer things and the architectural trends from Europe began to be imported to the New [...] Read on →

Ask the Craftsman: What’s With the Pineapples?

pineapple fence

This week’s question comes from…my wife. Seriously, she has been wanting me to write about this for awhile now. And yes, I’ll be sending her a free copy of my eBook as a thank you. Why are there pineapples carved on fences and other parts of old houses? This topic came up because in our neighborhood we have a house that we affectionately call “The Pineapple House.” It has at least a dozen pineapples carved into its fence and porch [...] Read on →

The Oldest City in America

Oldest School in America

Recently, my wife and I went on vacation to the oldest city in America. Luckily, I have a wife who loves old buildings (almost) as much as I do! I wanted to share some of the history and pictures with you since it truly was an incredible experience. What is the oldest city in America, you ask? Surely, it has to be in New England near the oldest house in America somewhere around Plymouth rock where the Pilgrims [...] Read on →

Empty Stairs, Missing History

Empty stairs

All around my town there are remnants of our history hiding in broad daylight. Hints of the past that are overlooked by almost all of us. Too small to be of much consequence anymore they are simply place markers to say that there once was something here. Something grand or something plain. Something we erased from our town’s memory. Stairways that lead to empty lots. Driveways to nowhere. Old addresses stamped on curbs. They evoke both a sadness [...] Read on →

3 Reasons I Chose Indow Windows (and so should you!)

Indow Windows

You know that I’m not a big promoter of new products here, but every once in a while someone comes up with a product or technique that makes it easier and cheaper to save old houses. And when that happens I am all over it like white on rice! My company has recently become a dealer for Indow Windows. Why? Because they work! I have them in my own home and it is truly incredible how much of [...] Read on →

Ask The Craftsman: What’s the Best Finish For Wood Floors?

best finish for wood floors

Don’t forget that if your question is selected for our Ask The Craftsman posts you’ll get a free copy of my eBook Living in the Past! (Now available on iTunes and in paperback & kindle on Amazon) We’ve got another great question this week from Richard in Pompano Beach, FL “What’s the best finish for the wood floors on my 1924 Bungalow?” Richard, the gold standard for refinishing wood floors today is 3 coats of oil-based polyurethane. It [...] Read on →

The Bungalow: America’s Home

Bungalow

Ever since it burst on the scene the bungalow has been an immensely popular style of architecture. You won’t find it listed in many books on architecture though because it is not a true architectural style like the Colonial Revival, Queen Anne Victorian, or its most closely related cousin the American Craftsman. The bungalow is a simple everyman’s house. Nothing too grand or big. No ornate gingerbread trim with extravagant 10-color paint schemes. Of all the historic home styles [...] Read on →

Where to Find Vintage Hardware

Copyright: kiya / 123RF Stock Photo

Vintage hardware is awesome. I could probably try to find more creative ways to say that, but I figured simpler is better. The bottom line is that vintage hardware, whether it is actually vintage or a well made replica, is a solidly constructed, beautiful piece of an old house. Vintage hardware has weight and significance to it. Cheap replicas, and run of the mill hardware today feel cheap and weak and they are. Many are made from plastic [...] Read on →

Demolition is a Choice, Not a Solution

Old Home Demolition

Recently, I was at a historic homes event here in Winter Park where the keynote speaker was Nicole Curtis of  HGTV/DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. In case you haven’t seen her show, she is an energetic little thing that goes around saving old houses by restoring them with her own two hands. She’s a one-woman preservation society in the Minneapolis area and its incredible! During the speech she said something that has really stayed with me. “Demolition is a choice, [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 3 Steam Heat)

how-to-strip-paint

This is the last post in our 3 part series on how to strip paint. In the first one I talked about working with chemical strippers and when and how to use them. Last week we delved into the world of elbow grease and talked about how to scrape like a pro. This week I want to talk about using heat to remove paint. Specifically, steam heat, but we’ll also discuss infrared strippers and good old-fashioned heat guns. [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 2 Scrape Like a Pro)

how-to-strip-paint

This may be the least exciting method of paint removal, but I have found it to be one of the best ways to remove decades of old paint quickly and cleanly. If you can learn how to strip paint without chemicals or heat your prep/clean up time can be significantly reduced. In this post, I’ll show you the tools and methods for how to strip paint effectively from just about any wood surface. A little elbow grease and the [...] Read on →

How To Strip Paint (Part 1 Chemical Strippers)

how-to-strip-paint

I know a lot of you have questions about stripping paint from old woodwork. I know because it’s one of the topics I get emailed about the most. So I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. There are three primary ways you can remove paint (scraping/sanding, chemicals, heat) and we’ll talk about all three in this series. Today let’s focus on chemical strippers, which are really your best option if you have detailed or ornate moldings to [...] Read on →

How To: Remove Paint From Hardware

How to remove paint from hardware

Old hardware is just like everything else in an old house, covered with decades of paint. Antique hardware can be some very attractive and beautifully crafted pieces of art that is well worth restoring. To restore that hardware you don’t want to just start scraping the paint off with an old screw driver. You’ll gouge the metal and spend hours trying to remove all the paint. To remove paint from hardware next time try boiling it off. Take [...] Read on →

Invisible Repairs For a Hardwood Floor

Invisible Repairs Hardwood Floor

My company is featured in the April/May 2014 edition of Fine Homebuilding Magazine for the unique way we repair historic hardwood floors. Here is a large portion of the article available for free only to The Craftsman Blog family. Enjoy! Other than refinishing hardwood floors, the most common repair my restoration company gets called to do is floorboard replacement. The most typical reasons we replace boards are due to termite or water damage, pet stains that almost blacken the boards to a [...] Read on →